Business Law & Compliance

Facebook being sued twice in one month for violating European privacy laws

3 min read

09 April 2015

Some 25,000 users have accused Facebook of violating European privacy laws. This also includes the way they are monitored when using the “like” button.

At the beginning of April it was announced that Facebook was being sued for amassing the world’s largest stash of facial-recognition data.

Th company’s data collection programme led to its automatic face-tagging service. However, it also helped Facebook create “the largest privately held stash of biometric face-recognition data in the world”, according to Courthouse News Service reports.

Carlo Licata, who spearheaded the lawsuit, claimed Facebook’s biometric program showed “brazen disregard for its users’ privacy writes”. 

Facebook has been under fire over this feature since it started using Face.com’s tagging service, which Facebook acquired in 2012.

A few days later and Facebook is being sued in Austria as part of a case that says the site is conducting mass surveillance. Over 50,000 people expressed an interest in being part of the case, but it was limited to 25,000.

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Data protection campaigner Max Schrems is leading the class action lawsuit. He also claimed that Facebook co-operated with the US surveillance programme Prism in 2007 and protested the way Facebook collected and forwarded data.

The company took a “Wild West” approach to data protection, he claimed.

The case has been brought against the social network’s European headquarters in Dublin. All accounts outside the US and Canada are registered there, which represents 80 per cent of the site’s 1.3bn users.

Schrems has fought cases with Facebook in Ireland and in the European Court of Justice before. He asked for £362 in damages for each of the people part of the case as compensation. Schrems said it was a symbolic sum.

The case, due to be filed in a Vienna court, involves 1,000 people from the UK and Ireland. Germany has the highest number of people backing the case with over 5,000 users.

“Basically, we are asking Facebook to stop mass surveillance, to (have) a proper privacy policy that people can understand, but also to stop collecting data of people that are not even Facebook users,” Schrems explained. “There is a wide number of issues in the lawsuit and we hope to kind of win all of them and to get a landmark case against US data-gathering companies.”

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